These days, my main murdersport is certainly Malifaux, from Wyrd Games. Their description will do a quick introduction better than I can right now, so:
Based in an alternate Earth, Malifaux uses gothic, steampunk, and victorian horror with a dose of the wild west to inject fun and depth into the magical lawlessness of a world rife with monsters, necropunks, man-machine hybrids, gunslingers, and powerhungry politicos. Actively using character-driven stories to define the world of Malifaux, seek your fortune in this fast paced and brutal 32mm tabletop miniature skirmish game.
First off, from a modeling perspective, this game has literally any sort of army you could want, aside from Elves. Cowboys? Check. Mechs? Check. Goblins? Check. Monsters? Check. Teddy Bears? Check. Ninjas? Check. Zombie hookers? Check. Lawyers? Check (Plus)!
Literally. Anything you want. Lots of things you didn’t know you wanted, as well. I left a lot off of the list above, so you can explore for yourself.
OK. One more thing: A Catapult which tosses pigs at your opponent is a thing in this game. And it’s as good as it is cool. Seriously, for those of you who love modeling, Malifaux should be quickly on your ‘buy’ list.
And even if you aren’t super into modeling (like me), Malifaux should be at the top of your ‘next murdersport to start’ list. As a skirmish game, it’s much cheaper than the more famous games. Games Workshop and Privateer Press do great stuff, but dear God that’s a lot of plastic, pewter, and resin to buy (meh) and finagle paint and tufts of grass onto (ugh). For a game of Malifaux you need (excepting some particularly Horde-style lists), about 10 models, of which you’ll end up using 7 or 8 in each game. At least one of the models you own needs to be a ‘Master,’ and you can only use one Master at a time. Like any game with factions, the rest of your ‘crew’ will be made up of models within the Master’s faction
Total investment, at retail, is likely to be around $100, depending on how you build your crew. A Malifaux podcast I like, Schemes and Stones, is constructing guides on how to build effective crews for $100 – I recommend you check it out. ‘Building on a Budget’ – he probably used to be (or is, I don’t know the guy) a Magic player and read the Wizardswebsite. #TitleStolen
But – there are two important parts to this game – which were new to me when I started, but at least one of them is certainly not unique to Malifaux.
The non-unique trait is that there are sub-ways to gain victory points within any of the major Schemes. Schemes are like scenarios in Games Workshop games -a limited number of them, both sides can fight over that for their victory points. Generally, these involve controlling the center of the board, controlling the edge of the board, killing enemy models or leaders, that sort of thing. But then, in addition to this shared fight, each person is going to pick 2 alternate ways to get VPs out of 5 options unique to this game. These are secret, so your opponent doesn’t know your real purpose.
You and your opponent will select your team after you know what the pool of your secret VP options is revealed, but before you actually select the secret VP options. Then, you start Murdersportsing.
The second cool thing, which as far as I know is unique to Malifaux, is that this game doesn’t use dice to decide your attacks/spells/initiative/what have you. Instead, each player has a 54 card (a deck of cards with the jokers), and flips the top card of their deck off in a game of war with the opponent, with ties going to the attacker. Modifiers come in the form of flipping additional cards, and either choosing the best of those cards if it was a positive modifier or the worst if it was a negative modifier.
This mechanic is awesome – the limited pool of luck is outstanding. Particularly since I roll murderdice when I play dice games, allowing me to often prevail against overwhelming odds or get away with stupid plays in other games. Here, that can still happen, but you can usually blame a Joker for throwing a wrench in the works.
Seriously. Play Malifaux. Maybe with me.